Mason, James

Born: 1783-07-XX Grafton, Massachusetts

Died: 1834-07-05 Saint Louis, Missouri

Flourished: Edwardsville, Illinois

Mason spent his early years in Grafton and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. As a young man he went to sea, engaging in trade in the West Indies for a number of years. He later moved to New York City and was a partner in the wholesale grocery firm of Hancock & Mason. That business failed, and Mason moved to Edwardsville, Illinois, where he became a receiver at the U.S. Land Office. As a land receiver, Mason entered land and acquired substantial real estate in Bloomington, Quincy, Springfield, and Edwardsville. In 1818, he married Sarah Von Phul, sister of Henry Von Phul, a prominent St. Louis businessman. They had one child, Martha M. Mason. In cooperation with St. Louis merchants, Mason entered a large portion of land on the present site of Grafton, Illinois, and received licenses to establish ferries across the Mississippi and Missouri rivers to ease commerce between St. Louis and Southwest Illinois. Mason built the first log cabins in Grafton in 1832, and in 1833 he received a charter from the Illinois General Assembly to incorporate the Grafton Manufacturing Company to build grist-mills, woolen mills, tanneries, and other businesses in Grafton. Mason died before the Grafton Manufacturing Company could commence any of these enterprises.

History of Greene and Jersey Counties, Illinois (Springfield, IL: Continental Historical Company, 1885), 308, 319-20; Oscar B. Hamilton, ed., History of Jersey County Illinois (Chicago: Munsell, 1919), 89-90, 458.